What Is Social Intelligence?

Social intelligence is a person's ability to understand and get along with other people. It is often colloquially referred to as people skills, and it often involves the ability to act differently in various social situations.

Social intelligence is primarily a learned skill, although some people may take to it more easily than others. A person with high social intelligence understands subtle etiquette and knows how to listen to people. This person can typically motivate others to cooperate, and people generally enjoy being around her. Socially intelligent people know how to present themselves well while still being genuine and authentic.

Social intelligence is often linked with emotional intelligence, although they are two separate concepts. Emotional intelligence is a person's ability to analyze his thoughts and feelings, as well as control those reactions. Low emotional intelligence can affect a person's social intelligence, however. Social intelligence requires self-control and an ability to understand what other people are feeling, and people with low emotional intelligence are often unable to do that.

Social intelligence is not an inherent part of a person's personality. While many think of an outgoing, energetic person as someone with high social intelligence, that level of energy is not essential. People can be quiet, calm and introverted while still being socially intelligent, while someone who is outgoing but too loud or rude has low social intelligence.